Thursday, November 4, 2010

Lady Musgrave Island

After Yeppoon, George and I set off alone for the next leg. First out to Great Keppel Island, which has lovely bays and walks, and is much nicer than suggested by the resort promotion 'Get Wrecked on Great Keppel'.

Then down to Yellow Patch on Curtis Island, Facing Island near Gladstone, and Pancake Creek, before heading out to sea to the atoll lagoon on the Great Barrier Reef, Lady Musgrave Island. The island is tiny, but the lagoon is huge, with a very narrow entrance in the coral.

There we were met by our friends Steve and Sue, who come from across the valley in Austinville.

They are both keen photographers, which inspired attempts to capture some of the masses of White-capped noddy terns on the island.

Pirelli Calendar girl

We also had fun snorkeling on the reef, and diving with our 12 volt Powerdive compressor, which allows you to go down to 10 metres without a scuba tank. Beautiful!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Beating south

The plan had been that we would cruise downwind northwards in May, with the steady South-easterlies. That happened.

Then in August we would meander from Hinchinbrook Island to Mackay, through the Whitsundays. Not a particularly ambitious project, partly because the area is interesting, partly because we aimed to have guests aboard, and partly because we knew that the winds would still be from the south-east. It all happened as planned.

But the next trip, from Mackay to Southport, from mid-October to mid-November, was supposed to coincide with the arrival of the North-easterlies, thus making it a down-hill run.

That is what happened exactly nine years ago, when George and I did a cruise in Sahula from Mackay to Tin Can Bay in the first fortnight of October 2001 (three weeks after 9/11) at the very beginning of our relationship.

But this time the northeasterlies are nowhere to be seen. Its steady on the nose all the time.

The good news is that Nimrod handles it very well. We have the small self-tacking jib on (which lets us point higher than the genoa) and when it gets choppy enough to slow the boat down, we put on one engine at 2000 - 2200 rpm and motor-sail along at 8 knots. That has the added benefit of topping up the batteries, and giving us hot water for showers at the end of the day. One engine uses one litre of diesel an hour, so its very economical.

The first week of this trip we were joined by our friends Greg and Jan, from Sydney. They are about to get a share of a Lightwave 45, and took the opportunity to help us from Mackay to Yeppoon.

Greg & Jan

We went from Mackay to Scawfell Island, and then down to Curlew Island, before stopping at Middle Percy Island, with its remarkable yachties shrine.

Middle Percy Island

George went exploring in the new inflatable kayak.

Pearl Bay

We dropped Greg and Jan off at Rosslyn Bay marina near Yeppoon, and are now cruising gently south via Great Keppel Island, Yellow Patch, and Facing Island, outside Gladstone.

We have had some good luck fishing, with several tuna and also plenty of crabs.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Settled in Mackay

Friday 20th August.
In a relaxing end to the cruise, we meandered down from Goldsmith Island to Brampton Island, where we enjoyed the lovely walks and amazing clouds of Blue Tiger butterflies.

Then on to the Mackay marina, where we spent a day reprovisioning and cleaning the boat before flying home.

Multis in the mist.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Music to charm whales

Monday 16th August

A gentle sail from Shaw Island to Goldsmith Island was enlivened by some close encounters with whales. We saw two pairs of mothers with their new babies.

It was very close to where we saw a mother and calf a few years ago.

Slideshow here.

We experimented with different music to attract them closer. Fat Freddy's Drop "Based on a True Story". Dire Straits "Communique", (perhaps suiting trans-species communication?) and Jan Garbaret.

None really conclusive!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Whitsunday relaxation

Saturday August 14th.

We are happily settled in the Whitsundays after some determined sailing. We did 70 nautical miles on Thursday on a tight reach in up to 30 knots of wind from Cape Bowling Green to Bowen . Two reefs at times. We caught a nice 5 kg Spanish Mackerel on the way.

Sunset in Bowling Green Bay, looking back to Cape Cleveland and Maggie Island.

Anchored off the beach at Bowen.

Then on Friday, another full day sailing through the Gloucester Passage to Blue Pearl Bay on Hayman Island. Some lovely snorkelling.

Blue Pearl Bay.

Today we called in to Hamilton Island to refuel and water, and are now near Lindeman Island.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Twas a dark and stormy night....

Saturday 7th August.

Anna flew home to Melbourne after a lovely cruise with us. She eventually found her sea-legs.

Nadine (George's step-daughter) and her eight-year-old son Leroy arrived, and we had a brisk sail out to Horseshoe Bay on Maggie Island.

We saw our friends Mal and Lucy blitzing the fleet in their cat 'Barbarella'.

Leroy is a very active boy, and we had a lot of fun practicing grand-parenting.

This is a photography lesson. Set the speed low and pan with a fast moving subject. 'How fast can you run?'

Tuesday 10th August.

Nadine and Leroy flew home, and we set off south to Cape Bowling Green. An easy trip, with a quiet anchorage, initially, but a front came through in the night with howling wind and rain, threatening to put us on a lee shore. We upped anchor and motored round to a safer place, but not before we copped a load of seawater through a hatch onto our bed. Bummer! So lots of stuff hanging out to dry today while we wait for the weather to pass through.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Maggie Island

One week gone, and the first leg has been achieved successfully.

We had a few of the usual dramas: Anna felt pretty queasy for a couple of days. The holding tank blocked up and was a smelly worry before resuming normal service. It seems that a sort of papier mache lining gets created inside the tank when it is allowed to settle for a couple of months.

But the good news is that our fish-drought got broken yesterday with a nice Mackeral Tuna.

We had a brisk sail through the Palm Islands and made it to Magnetic Island last night.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Beating south

We are back on Nimrod after a couple of months work and winter on the Gold Coast. This time Admiral George, Captain Dave, and Midship-person Anna.

We all flew to Townsville and rented a car to raid the deli and supermarket on the drive two hours north to Cardwell.

Nimrod seemed in good nick, thought there was a fair amount of swallow-poop to hose off before we left the Port Hinchinbrook. We had a slight 'contact' between one prop and a rock-wall when refuelling just as we left her in May. I had been worrying about this, so we sailed out to Goold Island and I went for a snorkel to check for any damage. All is fine, which is a big relief.

Next day, south a little to Hinchinbrook Island, where we did a 5 hour bush-walk on the Thorsborne Trail. Really lovely. Clouds of butterflies.

On the third day, Sunday 1st August, We sailed out to the Brook Islands where we had such a good snorkel in May, when Joan was with us. Even better this time, with lots of fish.

I saw one clam that was one metre wide. George cut her finger sticking it another one's mouth.

Brook Island turns out to be the site of a tragedy. In 1944 the Allies used it to test mustard gas in preparation for using it against the Japs. It successfully killed goats, so they tried it on volunteers, recruited from US jails. All fifty died.

A brisky, sunny sail down the outside of Hinchinbrook Island to a sheltered spot for the night.

Next morning we mosied round to the famous Zoe Bay, and walked up to the waterfall.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mission accomplished

Friday May 28th.

The mission was to sail Nimrod from the Gold Coast to Hinchinbrook, and leave her safely tucked up in Port Hinchinbrook. We pulled it off, thanks to perfect weather and following trade-winds.

The last few days have been relaxing. After Dunk Island we motored back to the Brook Islands, which feature some particularly good snorkeling. Joan walked on the reef, while George and I snorkeled. Lovely. Some huge clams.

Then to Hinchinbrook Island, where we sped up some mangrove creeks, in the RIB, looking for crocs and a boardwalk to join the famous Thorsborne Trail. It looks stunning, and will be an early point of call when we return at the end of July.

Then further up the Hinchinbrook Channel, beautiful, but with plenty of mozzies.

Finally, just as we were heading for the marina where we have left Nimrod, Joan caught a small shark, which she expertly dissected (her old degree in zoology coming out of storage), and then she cooked us a great last supper.

So this leg of the cruise is over, and we have flown home to resuscitate our respective practices, and will go north again at the end of July to do the next stage.

Signing off for now,

Dave and George

Monday, May 24, 2010

Orpheus to Dunk Island

Monday May 23rd.

We spent Sunday night moored peacefully at Orpheus Island, a pretty member of the Palm Island group. We climbed a hill for the views.

Then today we sailed past Hinchinbrook Island, a large and spectacular island with quite high mountains.

Zoe Bay, Hinchinbrook Island

Zoe Bay

Hinchinbrook Island

Because the forecast is for the wind to go around to the north in a few days, we decided to go further up to Dunk Island before coming back to Cardwell with the nor-easterly on Wednesday. This is approaching the Family Group of islands.

I've been reading a book "Confessions of a Beachcomber" by Edmund Banfield, courtesy of the magic of Kindle. Banfield was Australia's answer to Thoreau. He lived on Dunk Island at the beginning of the twentieth century, writing about his life of natural simplicity. Dunk is a lovely place.